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January 21, 2006
Tsunami takes toll on India's seafood exports

Seafood exports from India were badly hit by the December 2004 tsunami, which ruined many shrimp aquaculture farms along the country's southern coast.

Figures released by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) for the first eight months of the current fiscal (2005-06) indicate that India exported 287,984 tonnes of seafood against 298,339 tonnes in the same period in the last fiscal.

The only reason for cheer is that in value terms the current fiscal fares better than the previous year. While in the last fiscal the total value was Rs 44.71 billion (about $1 billion), this fiscal it rose to Rs 45.36 billion.

The tsunami waves spoilt the shrimp seeds that farmers were banking on for a rich harvest later in the year.

Anwar Hashim, Kerala's leading exporter of seafood, said the main reason for the drop in export figures in the current fiscal was the effect of the tsunami December 26, 2004.

"Shrimp aquaculture farms in southern India were badly affected. Of the total export of shrimps, aquaculture provides close to 65 percent. Many incurred huge losses and this is one reason for the drop in export figures," Hashim, who heads Abad Fisheries, said.

Exports in 12 months of the last fiscal stood at 461,329 tonnes, valued at Rs 68.81 billion.

"This year we would be glad if the total tonnage of seafood exports touches the 400,000-tonne mark. Given the present trend it is unlikely," said KC Ninan, another seafood exporter.

The seafood industry was also badly hit by the levying of anti-dumping duty on seafood exports from India to the US.

"They have been levying 10.17 per cent duty on imports on seafood products from India to the US and this has taken a toll. They began this last fiscal and are continuing with it this fiscal too," said Hashim.

In value terms, the US accounts for close to 36 per cent of all seafood exports from India, but in quantity terms, Europe leads the list.

"This is because all the high value products like shrimps head for the US while other products go to Europe. The cheaper varieties of fish mostly are exported to China," added Hashim.

A reason for the seafood industry to cheer is the upcoming International Seafood Show to be held February 3-5 in Kolkata, in which seafood industry giants from abroad are expected to participate.

Source : HindustanTimes